Pirates likely to non-tender Zach Duke this offseason

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Once upon a time Zach Duke went 8-2 with a 1.81 ERA as a 22-year-old rookie, but in the five seasons since then he’s 36-66 with a 4.74 ERA while allowing the highest opponents’ batting average of any pitcher with at least 120 starts.
And now it looks like his Pirates career is coming to a close.
Duke failed to make it out of the second inning against the Braves yesterday, falling to 7-13 with a 5.47 ERA, and Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes that “indications are powerful” the Pirates will non-tender the 27-year-old southpaw rather than risk having to give him a raise on this season’s $4.3 million salary via arbitration.
John Russell removed Duke from the game without saying a word to him in the second inning and afterward the manager told reporters, simply: “He didn’t have much. Not much else you can say.”

Will Middlebrooks carted off field with injury

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Phillies third baseman Will Middlebrooks suffered a serious injury during Saturday’s Grapefruit League contest against the Orioles. The infielder was chasing down a pop fly in the eighth inning when he ran into left fielder Andrew Pullin, who inadvertently trapped Middlebrooks’ ankle under his leg. Middlebrooks was unable to put weight on his leg following the collision and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital for X-rays.

Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, not much is known yet about the severity of the ankle injury or the recovery time it will require, though it appears serious enough to set Middlebrooks back considerably as he seeks a backup/bench role with the team this spring.

The 29-year-old is currently seeking another opportunity to extend his six-year major-league career in 2018. He’s coming off of two down years with the Brewers and Rangers, during which he slashed a cumulative .169/.229/.262 with four extra bases through 70 plate appearances.